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Short-term effects of PENS versus dry needling in subjects with unilateral mechanical neck pain and active myofascial trigger points in levator scapulae muscle: a randomized controlled trial
Garcia-de-Miguel S, Pecos-Martin D, Larroca-Sanz T, Sanz-de-Vicente B, Garcia-Montes L, Fernandez-Matias R, Gallego-Izquierdo T
Journal of Clinical Medicine 2020 Jun;9(6):1665
clinical trial
7/10 [Eligibility criteria: Yes; Random allocation: Yes; Concealed allocation: Yes; Baseline comparability: Yes; Blind subjects: No; Blind therapists: No; Blind assessors: Yes; Adequate follow-up: Yes; Intention-to-treat analysis: No; Between-group comparisons: Yes; Point estimates and variability: Yes. Note: Eligibility criteria item does not contribute to total score] *This score has been confirmed*

Procedures such as dry needling (DN) or percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (PENS) are commonly proposed for the treatment of myofascial trigger points (MTrP). The aim of the present study is to investigate if PENS is more effective than DN in the short term in subjects with mechanical neck pain. This was an evaluator-blinded randomized controlled trial. Subjects were recruited through announcements and randomly allocated into DN or PENS groups. Pain intensity, disability, pressure pain threshold (PPT), range of motion (ROM), and side-bending strength were measured. The analyses included mixed-model analyses of variance and pairwise comparisons with Bonferroni correction. The final sample was composed of 44 subjects (22 per group). Both groups showed improvements in pain intensity (partial-eta2 = 0.62; p < 0.01), disability (partial-eta2 = 0.74; p < 0.01), PPT (partial-eta2 = 0.79; p < 0.01), and strength (partial-eta2 = 0.37; p < 0.01). The PENS group showed greater improvements in disability (mean difference 3.27; 95% CI 0.27 to 6.27) and PPT (mean difference 0.88 to 1.35; p < 0.01). Mixed results were obtained for ROM. PENS seems to produce greater improvements in PPT and disability in the short term.

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